Hopefully, you haven’t already placed your birdhouse, and are only now seeking tips on how to attracts birds to it, as you haven’t seen any take residence yet.
Birdhouse Boxes to Tick Off
If you want to make sure that your birdhouse investment will bear fruit, or birds in this case, you need to check if it satisfies the following criteria:
- Proper location.
- Fitting birdhouse for a particular bird species.
- Predator threat neutralization.
- Birdhouse Placement
Where the birdhouse is placed is among the foremost factors that count in attracting a bird. Different birds require different accommodations. Some birds like to nest near trees as they hunt for insects and fruits, both of which trees provides.
Trees also provide shelter from bad weather and from direct sunlight, not to mention predators.
In addition, all birds have evolved to recognize trees as natural allies in their struggle for survival.
Therefore, if you have some tall trees around, consider mounting a birdhouse on one of them, preferably at a minimum height of 6 feet from the ground.
You can do this without damaging a tree by placing a birdhouse that can be strapped around the trunk, or you can use a mounting bracket so that the house is not itself attached to the tree and can be slotted out for easy cleaning and maintenance. The latter solution is always preferable to just drilling the birdhouse itself into the tree.
In the case of straps, you can completely avoid damaging the tree, and only have to check once in a while if the tree has sufficiently grown to slightly loosen the strap. You can also move it around easily if something did not turn out right.
If you are out of luck and have no appropriate trees in your immediate area, metal poles with birdhouse attachment would be your best solution, but only if they are embedded deep into the ground so they don’t sway during high-winds and bad weather.
Unstable birdhouses that sway in the wind are a big no-no for birds, and they will soon flee such unstable platforms. That also excludes any birdhouse that is hooked onto something.
Birdhouses on metal poles may not have the natural shade of trees, and their food provision capability, but they do something very important – slippery and thin metal poles are a much greater deterrent from predators than a thick tree trunk with bark that can easily serve as a climbing surface.
Of course, there is nothing stopping you for placing multiple birdhouses at different locations – trees, metal poles, roof overhangs. As long as they are facing away from the prevailing winds and are stable, you are good to go.
Recommended Birdhouse Dimensions by Species
For both placement and birdhouse type, consult your regional information source to figure out which bird species reside in your area. Only then will you have adequate information to properly judge which birdhouse to get. With that out of the way, almost all the work in attracting birds is done.
Online stores already state in the product description for which birds is that particular birdhouse most appropriate, but if you want to build a birdhouse yourself, consult this table first:
|SPECIES||FLOOR (IN)||HEIGHT (IN)||HOLE DIAMETER (IN)||HOLE ABOVE FLOOR (IN)||BOX ABOVE GROUND (FT)|
|Ash-Throated Flycatcher||6x6||8-12||1 1/2||6-10||5-15|
|Great Crested Flycatcher||6x6||8-12||1 3/4||6-10||5-15|
|Red-tailed Hawk||24x24 platform||-||-||-||at least 14|
|Brown-headed, Pygmy & Red-breasted Nuthatch||4x4||8-10||1 1/4||6-8||5-15|
|White Breasted Nuthatch||4x4||8-10||1 3/8||6-8||5-15|
|Osprey*||48x48 platform||-||-||-||at least 15 over water|
|Great Horned Owl||24x24 platform||-||-||-||-|
|Phoebes||6x6 nest shelf||6||-||-||8-12|
|Barn Swallow||6x6 nest shelf||6||-||-||8-12|
|Purple Martin||6x6||6||2 1/4||1-2||6-20|
|Tree & Violet Green Swallow||5x5||6-8||1 1/2||4-6||6-15|
|American Robin||7x8 nest shelf||8||-||-||6-15|
|Eastern Bluebird||5x5||6-12||1 1/2||4-10||4-10|
|Western Bluebird||5x5||6-12||1 1/2||4-10||4-10|
|Mtn Bluebird||5x5||6-12||1 9/16||4-10||4-10|
|Downy Woodpecker||4x4||8-10||1 1/4||6-8||5-15|
|Hairy Woodpecker||6x6||12-15||1 1/2||9-12||8-20|
|Lewis's Woodpecker||7x7||16-18||2 1/2||14-16||12-20|
|Yellow-bellied Woodpecker||5x5||12-15||1 1/2||9-12||10-20|
|House Wren||4x4||6-8||1 1/8||4-6||5-10|
|Carolina Wren||4x4||6-8||1 1/4||4-6||5-10|
|Bewick's Wren||4x4||6-8||1 1/8||4-6||5-10|
Along with proper dimensions that fit the bird species you want to attract, a birdhouse should be adequately ventilated with holes on the upper side of the walls, and drainage holes. Birds will cover them with the nesting material so don’t worry if the tiny bird eggs could fall out, as good birdhouses have crisscrossed grating anyway. A birdhouse with an overhanged roof will go a long way in providing shade at the entrance area, while also protecting against rain and hail.
As for the aesthetic design of the birdhouse, earthy tones that fit in the nature would be preferable to gaudy colors and themes. However, remember that darker colors absorb more sunlight so they could overheat the birdhouse.
Raccoons, cats, and snakes are natural predators of birds. Squirrels to a lesser extent as they are food thieves, raccoons only if they are unable to scavenge your trash bins, and household cats are the most efficient, gratuitous bird-killers.
All of them are skillful climbers, so the biggest preventative method is to place birdhouses at heights above 6 feet, with some kind of bafflement wrapping the tree trunk/pole, like a belt of upturned cones.
Additionally, an elongated birdhouse roof extending at least 5 inches beyond the entrance area will make it quite difficult to gain entry. If there are tree branches nearby, cut them off so the cats can’t vault over.
Other common sense measures should be employed:
- Don’t leave any food in an open area.
- Don’t feed feral cats.
- Keep your own cat(s) indoor.
- Maintain your property fence.
On a final note, try to look for birdhouses that already have integrated predator guards.